Grant supports non-profits’ visits to Freeman Stage

The Freeman Stage at Bayside recently received a grant from the Sussex County Council to assist in their outreach program and their mission of providing a quality arts experience and education for all.

Patti Grimes, executive director of the Freeman Stage, said they recently updated the council on all they have accomplished in the past three years, including exposing more than 50,000 people to the performances at the stage.

“We started some outreach last year concerning transportation for non-profits, and we went to the county and said we’d love for them to partner with us. We received the grant to assist more people in coming here and enjoying the performances.”

The grant of $4,700 will help to reimburse non-profits for travel expenses, bus rentals or mileage, depending on their needs.

“They have different needs,” explained Grimes. “They might have a bus already, or they have a van but they just need mileage for gas. We try to be creative and leverage all of our money to maximize it for all groups to come.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the County’s commitment to the mission of arts in the community,” she added. “We work with so many non-profits, and it means a lot to have the children come and enjoy the performances.”

“We invite all non-profits to participate,” she said, adding that any non-profit can contact them for more information.

“We are willing to work with any group so that [transportation] is not an issue anymore,” Grimes said, emphasizing their mission of presenting quality arts experiences and education for all.
Grimes said that, last year, the Freeman Stage connected with 4,000 children through their outreach program, and their goal this year is 6,500, which is in addition to their normal stage attendees.

This season’s highlights for children and families are the return of the Dirty Sock Funtime Band on Saturday, July 2, Celtic Night with the Hunt Family on Thursday, July 7, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble on Thursday, July 21, local artist John Donato giving lessons at the Arts and Jazz Festival on Friday, July 22, and Saturday, July 23, and much, much more.

“There is acting, painting, theater, storytelling,” said Grimes, of the programs scheduled for the stage this summer. “And on Thursday nights, we have fantastic family programming. And it’s free for everyone!”

Saturday programs for youth are free, as well, and children younger than 18 can view any paid show free of charge, except national acts The B-52s and LeAnn Rhimes.
To view the full calendar for the 2011 season or for more information, visit online.